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1974

1974 2.7 911: the new standard

The year 1974 represented great change for Porsche. After a decade of constant fettling of its 911, where it witnessed increases in wheelbase, model designations, engine capacity and specification options, Zuffenhausen decided to ring the changes in what was the first major refresh of the car’s now famous history.

Most notably from the outset, those slender lines associated with Butzi’s initial 911 design were altered by Tony Lapine and his team, the addition of impact bumpers at both the front and rear of the car a regulatory necessity rather than a creative endeavour. The 911 needed to adopt impact bumpers to satisfy US crash-safety regulations, and though their presence unquestionably disrupted the flow of the 911’s appearance, it truly was a case of adapt or die. The latter was out the question, as it had by now gained an envious reputation as a robust sports car capable of outgunning its bigger motorsporting rivals.

The engine too was updated, the entire line-up ditching the 2.4-litre engine capacity of the F-series cars in favour of the 2.7-litre capacity used by the 1973 Carrera RS. Black window trim was retained from that first 911 Rennsport for the top-spec cars, with door handles and mirrors also now finished in black instead of chrome. There were minor upgrades to the interior too, including the incorporation of headrests into a one-piece seat for the first time.

Aside from changing the body and engine, Porsche also took the opportunity to revamp its entire 911 model line-up. Three cars would remain – until, of course, the Turbo arrived a year later in 1975 – but the top-spec 911S of the F-series replaced the doomed 911E as the middle offering, while the 911 Carrera became the new jewel of Porsche’s showroom. At the other end the T was scrapped entirely, the entry-level car now simply referred to as the base 911 for this new chapter of Neunelfer.

However, while the pre-impact bumper 911T is a fairly sought-after classic today for the purity of its lines, its successor in the 2.7 911 isn’t generally looked at with a similar fondness. At face value this is understandable. The base 2.7 car may be more powerful than the 911T by 25bhp in US-spec, but it’s heavier by around 50kg too, largely cancelling out any straight-line performance advantage, and the G-series cars just don’t possess the purity in appearance of the early, pre-impact bumper models. However, there are fewer 2.7 911s on the planet than 911Ts, with a quoted 9,320 2.7s built in both Coupe and Targa body styles over the 1974 and 1975 model years, while the 911T was produced 16,933 times between 1972 and 1973.

Despite this, the base 2.7 has largely been forgotten in the classic marketplace, it considered less desirable than the T before it or indeed the cars succeeding it, such as the heavier SC or 3.2 Carrera. It’s not like 1974 is an unpopular year of production either: the top-of-the-range 2.7 Carrera is revered as a genuine collector’s car for its credentials as a ‘secret RS’, the 3.0-litre RSs of the same model year generally considered to be a superior car to the halo 2.7 RS. It’s fair to say though the mid-spec 911S has suffered a similar fate to the base 911 in being largely forgotten. Has an injustice been served?

 

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the ‘other’ 2.7 Carrera

Nobody likes a killjoy, especially an automotive one. If you were a Porsche 911 driver in the mid-1970s, it must have felt as if everyone was wanting to take all of your toys away and spoil all of your fun. A combination of a global fuel crisis, soaring pump prices for petrol and oil embargoes all combined with a sudden attack of conscience as the world woke up to environmental damage and vehicle accident safety. This ended up having a significant impact on the Porsche 911 that everyone loved.

Gone were the beautiful chromed bumpers, replaced with what many saw as ugly ‘Federal spec’ Impact Bumpers. Even the traditional Porsche whaletail wasn’t spared, the German TÜV authorities deciding that the trailing edge was potentially dangerous, leading Porsche to introduce the soft-rubber edging that we know so well today.

In Europe, drivers were spared many of the engine modifications needed for Porsche to continue to sell the 911 in the US. We remained safely enjoying our mechanical fuel injection throttle response and looked smugly across the Atlantic at the Americans and their California law makers, their poor 911 seemingly shackled.

History has not been kind to the US-spec Carrera 2.7. If online forums and hearsay were to be believed, a California-specification Carrera 2.7 would probably have the uphill performance of a Citroën 2CV. Everywhere you could possibly look gives reinforcement of the jaundiced view that the 2.7 Carrera with CIS is to be avoided. Nothing to see here… head over to Europe and seek out a 2.7 MFI.

However, for one man, the chance to own a US-specification 911 proved to be irresistible. “When a friend told me about a 2.7 US Carrera he’d seen for sale, I wasn’t inspired. Like everyone else it was some way down my list of Porsche I’d like to own. However, my friend then said, ‘It’s a non-sunroof Coupe’,” Robin Titterington says.

“That got me interested. After all, I could always swap out the engine, hot rod it, remove the emissions gear. So I bought it with the expectation to change it, tune it, improve it.” “But as I began to put some miles on the car, the entire validity of their tainted reputation came into question. This was a stock engine and I was having fun. Something doesn’t add up here! I’ve driven 1973 Carrera RSs, nearly every year of early 911 T, E, and S models and have owned a hot rod 2.5-litre 1971 911 for years – I’m not easily swayed.”

Robin was actually enjoying driving the US 2.7 just as it was. The performance was certainly different, but a long way from being unacceptable. And compared with other 911s he had owned, it was actually quite comparable. Why should this stock US-spec 2.7 Carrera with all of its alleged shackles and compromises be such fun to drive? Robin tried to
find out more.

“I began doing some quick research, but rather than answer my questions it seemed to turn up lots of conflicting performance data and information. Reviews of the 1974 US Carrera from ‘back in the day’ were overwhelmingly positive, although the performance numbers were all over the map. More recent information and opinion seems predominantly negative. I soon had magazines and books scattered all over my desktop and had to start writing things down to keep it all straight.”

So it appears that all is not as it would seem with the 1974 US 2.7. Robin’s investigations actually posed more questions than answers. “It seems that there were so many different ways to record performance stats in the 1970s. Plus, many automotive magazines didn’t test with the same desire for accuracy that they do today.” Swapping between power outputs measured at the flywheel and then also at the wheels seems to throw many figures hopelessly out of context. Robin’s study of the period data proves to
be very interesting.

He continues, “For instance, Car & Driver’s February 1972 test of the new 2.4-litre Porsche used SAE gross horsepower numbers, giving the 911 S 210bhp, but in its 1974 test of the Carrera they switched to the opposite extreme with SAE net horsepower, giving it only 167hp! No wonder many have come to believe these cars are underpowered. In SAE gross units, the 1974 Carrera US has 195bhp.”

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Top five Porsche 911 drives of 2016 – Josh’s picks

After getting behind the wheel of some truly incredible Porsche 911s in 2015, I was worried that my top five this year wouldn’t hit the same high standard. However, a look back over the last 12 months of Neunelfer motoring has shown that I had nothing to worry about. In ascending order, here is my 2016 top five:

5) Porsche 991.2 Carrera
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You may remember that, leading up to the 991.2’s launch, I was pretty uneasy about the reality of a turbocharged Porsche 911 Carrera. However, getting behind the wheel of the 991.2 Carrera for the first time at the start of the year allayed all of my fears.

The chassis is even more accomplished than the Gen1 and the 3.0-litre flat six is a masterstroke, delivering plenty of punch without the usual turbo lag. I even enjoy the more nuanced soundtrack.

4) Porsche 993 Carrera RS
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The 964 Carrera RS managed to make my top five in 2015 but, after putting one head-to-head with its successor for an air-cooled twin test in issue 140, it was clear that the Porsche 993 Carrera RS is the superior car.

The 3.6-litre flat six is a genuine firecracker but it’s the chassis that is the standout star. I’ve not driven an air-cooled Porsche 911 that has felt so sharp or precise before or since.

3) Porsche 911 Carrera RSR IROC
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Driving any super rare Porsche 911 is always an unforgettable experience but getting into the driver’s seat of a genuine IROC RSR for the latest issue’s head-to-head has to be right up there in my list of top moments ever.

If sitting where the likes of Peter Revson and George Follmer once sat wasn’t surreal enough, the sound from the 3.0-litre engine, piped through an unsilenced exhaust system, now permanently resonates inside my skull.

2) Porsche 993 Turbo
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For nearly three years, the chance to drive a 993 Turbo evaded my grasp. However, when I finally got the chance to drive the last air-cooled Turbo (courtesy of Paul Stephens) it didn’t disappoint.

Like many 993s, it was the perfect blend of analogue sports car and technological tour de force. Unlike the 993 C4S, the Turbo doesn’t suffer from an excess of understeer and the throttle response from the twin turbo flat six is simply phenomenal. It truly deserves its new five-star rating.

1) Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 RS
3-0-rs

Forget the 2.7 RS. If you’re in the market for a classic Rennsport then it’s all about the Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 RS. From its dynamics to its dynamism, everything about the 1974 RS’s is sharper and more polished than its more famous predecessor.

The chassis is almost telepathic in its ability to transmit your inputs to the road while the engine fills in the 2.7-litre unit’s torque gaps without losing that inimitable Rennsport fizz. And its styling is so unabashedly Seventies in its execution. What’s not to love? Now to search down the back of the sofa for a spare £1 million…

Which Porsche 911s have you most enjoyed driving in 2016? Join the debate in the comments below or tweet us @Total911.

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Video: A history of the Porsche 911 Targa

 

In 2017, the Porsche 911 Targa – the original open top Neunelfer – will reach its 50th birthday, a remarkable milestone for a model that was originally devised to meet safety regulations that were, ultimately, never implemented.

To celebrate the upcoming anniversary, we’ve decided to look back over the Targa’s half a century of history in our latest video, taking you through the evolution of the model from 1967 right through to the latest 991.2 Targa 4S.

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Our five-minute flick also stars a 1974 Porsche 911 Targa from esteemed specialist, Canford Classics, the original impact bumper iteration showing how the latest open-top Neunelfers has both changed and been inspired by Zuffenhausen’s iconic roll hoop design.

We’ve put the two idiosyncratic roof systems to the test too and, if you missed our road trip with the 991.2 version in Total 911 issue 142, Features Editor, Josh gives you his opinion from behind the wheel of the new 911 Targa to see if turbocharging has improved the alfresco driving experience.

For more of the latest and best Porsche 911 videos, check out our dedicated film section now.

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Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS v 3.0 RS: Improving The Breed

Up ahead, Total 911 Editor, Lee, is having a very good day at work. How can I tell just from looking at the back of his head? Well, he’s behind the wheel of a genuine, first 500, M471 ‘Sport’ specification 2.7 RS, and no one can have a bad day when in the driver’s seat of such a legendary 911.

It’s even finished in Grand Prix white with the blue side script and colour-coded Fuchs. With the sun glinting off the famous bürzel, it looks sublime. At this particular moment, I’d wager that I’m having an even better time though, and not just thanks to the glorious view of the original Rennsport shooting up the road ahead of me.

You see, Lee may be at the helm of a 2.7 RS, but in a game of very expensive Top Trumps, I have one-upped him on this occasion by precisely 307cc. The 3.0 RS that I’m currently piloting through the Essex lanes was launched just a year after Lee’s car and yet, it is often forgotten in debates regarding RS royalty.

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However, from all objective perspectives, the 1974 Carrera RS is the better car. Maybe it is the 3.0-litre car’s incredible rarity that has turned it into a forgotten hero – just 109 cars were built (51 were full racing spec RSRs) – or maybe there is something more intangible that has elevated the 2.7 RS onto its pedestal among the Porsche gods. That’s what today’s family reunion is all about.

Getting these two Rennsport legends on the same stretch of tarmac has not been easy; over the last half a century, Zuffenhausen has released nearly 900,000 Neunelfers into the wild, with 2.7 RS M471s and 3.0 RSs accounting for a mere 258 of these.

If my maths is correct, the probability of getting these two together was one in 75 million! Those are some pretty long odds but, after nearly two years of searching, we finally did it. And, bloody hell, is it worth it.

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Short of chasing down Jürgen Barth in a 964 RS, my pursuit of the 2.7 RS from the cockpit of its 3.0-litre successor is the surrealist experience I’ve enjoyed during my three years in this job.

As if to make the whole thing even more incredible, I’m strapped into the lightweight Recaro bucket seat, shifting with my left hand in one of only six right-hand-drive 1974 RSs ever made. It’s not just the orientation of the steering wheel that makes this particular 3.0 RS so special either.

Currently owned by ex-historic racing ace, Nigel Corner, chassis no. 099 was originally ordered by Lord Alexander Hesketh, head of the eponymous racing team that vaulted James Hunt to Formula One stardom in 1973.

To read our Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS v 3.0 RS head-to-head in full, pick up Total 911 issue 145 in store today. Alternatively, order your copy online for home delivery, or download it straight to your digital device now.

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